Monday, January 28, 2013

some thoughts on food i wrote a while ago

I have such a complex relationship with food, as I'm sure many others do as well. It's strange and yet completely logical that something which is such a basic need for survival should be a large part of my life. Growing up and even now, so much of my life is centered around food. Family gatherings are based around a meal, be it a summer BBQ, a holiday dinner or even cake and ice cream for a birthday. Food brings us together and can tear us apart. For instance, that same birthday cake which brought all our loved ones together to share joy and celebrate, probably left most of us feeling guilty for indulging in a sweet treat when we should be trying to cut back and lose weight.

There are many options for weight loss and fat loss. A myriad of diets and quick-fix claims confront us everyday on TV, in magazines and on the internet. Even for those of us who are successful in losing some weight, it is a constant battle to keep the weight off. We can blame genetics, lack of motivation, stress, not enough free time and many other things. It confuses me how something so great as food can be all at once one of my greatest loves and one of my biggest enemies.

There's no perfect answer for anyone. I've been trying to make myself more educated about where my food comes from and on different theories of how we can lose or gain muscle and fat. It isn't going to solve my issues with food, nor quench my love of it, but information is power. The more knowledge I gain, the more informed of a decision I can make with respect to what food I do or do not eat on a daily basis. Eating is something most of us just take for granted. I'm lucky enough to live in a society where I can make educated choices about my food intake and have the options available to me to purchase that food. I feel like I owe it to myself and to others to take advantage of the tools and opportunities available to me to make the best choice possible. I don't have my perfect answer yet, but I'm still reading and learning and I encourage each and everyone of you to do the same.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I haven't forgotten I have a blog: Chicken Meatza Recipe

I realize that I haven't posted here in a while. I'm trying to make a come back. So I'm starting small and going to try to just build up a habit of posting some recipes I encounter that I end up enjoying. Unfortunately this is a new habit, so by the time I thought that it might be a good idea to take a pic of this meal, this is all that was left:
Figure 1: Empty plate, the meatza was that good. 
The beige sauce in the small bowl of Figure 1 contained "Sunshine Sauce" which was originally posted on the blog of Melissa Joulwan (The Clothes Make the Girl) and also can be found in her awesome cookbook (Well Fed) with many other delicious recipes I've personally consumed. The only substitutions I made to the recipe were that I did include the optional dash of cayenne pepper, I could only find liquid aminos from Whole Foods, not coconut aminos, and I used "natural" Sunbutter that I found at Target and didn't bother looking for the "organic" one that has no added sugar.

The empty space on my plate in Figure 1 was once occupied by the CPK-style Thai chicken meatza. I had found this recipe on the blog called Stuff I Make My Husband. Now, I know Rob isn't my husband yet, which shall be remedied this weekend, but I still make him stuff from time to time and I did SHARE this meatza with him. It should also be noted that both Stuff I Make My Husband and The Clothes Make the Girl are Paleo-diet-friendly websites and usually boast Whole 30-approved recipes. Now, back to the chicken meatza. Some small changes I ended up making to the recipe were as follows: I didn't have any bean sprouts and couldn't find any at Target on my grocery trip, so I omitted that ingredient and just added some extra shredded carrot. I believe the cake pan I used was only a 9" pan, unlike the 10" pan the recipe author used. Finally, since we like things spicy in our apartment, I took the liberty of adding a chopped up jalapeno (seeds included) in with the cilantro and chopped cashews sprinkled on as a finishing touch. 

I must also mention, the Sunshine Sauce is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious. Amazingly I had some left over from the dinner and decided to use it as a salad dressing for my lunch today (Figure 2). I just mixed up some greens fresh from my CSA (butter lettuce, mustard greens and arugula). Then chopped up and tossed in some celery, carrots and scallions that I had in my fridge (the scallions and carrots were left over from the meatza last night). Then I threw in some breakfast radishes, also from my CSA. Finally, I drizzled on the left over Sunshine Sauce and tossed in 2 over-easy fried eggs for some protein.
Figure 2: Lunch time salad. Red arrow indicates breakfast radish, white arrow indicates carrot drenched in Sunshine Sauce, black arrow indicates over-easy fried eggs. 
That's all that I have to share for today. I don't think I'll be doing much cooking over the next few days as I'm off to get married this weekend. I'll try to whip up something tasty to share next week though. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Restaurant Review: Burgatory Bar

Rob and I have been trying to explore new (or new to us) restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. On this past Saturday, July 17th, Burgatory Bar was graced with our presence. To start off with, the restaurant is located in the Aspinwall neighborhood of Pittsburgh at the Waterworks Mall. This meant that there was a short drive (only about 10-15 min), but also ample parking, that was FREE. This was a big positive in my book as it can be quite difficult to find parking in Pittsburgh and often it is at meters, but I digress.

Since I was not my usual over-prepared self, we did not have reservations and had an hour wait. To be fair it was about 6:30PM on a Saturday night, so I wasn't surprised. I was however, pleasantly surprised by the waiting system they had set up. Their scheduling book was on an iPad and sent me texts to let me know my estimated wait, when my table was ready, and then post-meal a thank you text for visiting the restaurant. During our wait we decided to take a stroll around the mall, which is an outdoor strip mall. We used up about 20 min or so reading magazines in the neighboring Barnes & Noble and then perused the Wine & Spirits for any tempting buys (I did end up buying a few more bottle of my new favorite Alentejo).

Once we tired of walking about we returned to Burgatory and found a seat at their bar for the remainder of our wait. As a side note, Burgatory and it's bar are not very large. It is a smaller sized restaurant, but has a great atmosphere. At the bar, Rob was pleased to find several of his favorite hoppy beers on tap, such as Green Flash IPA and Victory Hop Wallop. I decided to start with a Strawberry Shag which was a divine vodka-based cocktail that had fresh strawberry and basil in it. The description warns that they go down too easy and boy was it right. I had finished it without even realizing it, so decided to switch to a shake for dinner.

Once we were seated we perused the menu. Although there were many delicious burgers on the menu, we could resist taking advantage of the custom burger option (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Burgatory Custom Order Menu. Rob Hall, 2011.
While we ticked off boxes for our favorite toppings and such, we ordered some onion rings to start and I ordered my shake (Figure 2). I went for the shake of the day which was a "Puppy Chow" shake, and of course I chose the option to have it spiked with some chocolate liqueur. For those of you not familiar with puppy chow, it is typically a mixture of Chex cereal, chocolate chips and peanut butter all melted together. Let me say here, this shake was AMAZING!
Figure 2: The AMAZING Puppy Chow milkshake.
Now for the main event. Rob ordered a custom bison burger with smoked gouda, applewood smoke bacon, a fried egg, BBQ sauce and jalapenos on a wheat bun (Figure 3). Pretty much a heart-attack on the plate, but he does a lot of running, so I think his heart can handle it for now. As for myself, I chose a crab cake burger with horseradish cheddar, poblano pepper and avocado wasabi on a wheat bun (Figure 4). My burger sounds a bit more tame, but as you can see from the picture, it was not in any way tiny or what I would call healthy. The avocado wasabi wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but the crab cake was gorgeous.
Figure 3: Rob's custom burger with fries.
Figure 4: Cas's custom order with chips.

Overall, I would rate this restaurant as GREAT! This one is definitely being added into our regular restaurant rotation. But be advised, bring a big appetite because you're going to want to eat everything and a lot of it!

For more information on Burgatory Bar:
website: http://burgatorybar.com/
FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Burgatory-Bar/
Phone: (412) 781-1456
Address: 932 Freeport Rd, Waterworks Mall, Pittsburgh PA 15238

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wine Review: Sogrape Callabriga Alentejo

The Wine: Callabriga Alentejo
From the back label
Winery: Herdade do Peso
Maturation: Oak barrels 12 mo and bottle 6 mo
Tasting Notes: Red-violet colour. Intesnse ripe red fruit aroma. Full-bodied and smooth, displays excellent balance and elegance. Ages well for 2-3 year.
Food Pairing: Meat and soft cheeses.
14.5 % alc/vol.
Bottled by Sogrape Vinhos
Imported by Evanton, Inc. Stamford, CT.

Figure 1: Bottle opened and served in vintage cocktail glass.

I found this wine in the Chairman's Selection at PA Wine & Spirits, where I often peruse the discount bottles. It is my new favorite wine. It is a nice dry red with a full body. Unfortunately, it is a last-call wine, which means what you see is what you get. No more restocks. Of course I had to go out and buy 14 bottles of it and clean out what was left of their stock. Sorry folks, this wine is great, but I don't think you'll be able to find it. If you're nice, maybe I'll share a glass with you ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Farmers' Market Haul

In my continuing quest to become more educated about the food I consume, I became interested in buying more fresh produce locally. I began looking for farmers' markets and discovered the website for Slow Food Pittsburgh. They offer a completely organic farmers' market every Saturday from 9AM-1PM known as the Farmers@Firehouse due to its location at The Firehouse Lounge in the Strip.

The weekend is a more flexible time for me to get my shopping done, since I work long hours during the week and can't make it to most farmers' markets as they seem to be during the afternoon on weekdays. In addition to the convenient time, I was also attracted to the fact that this farmers' market offered only organic produce.

Enough chit-chat, let's get to the goods. Here was my haul (Figure 1) for this week:  hens' eggs, proscuitto and Crested Duck black hawaiian sea salt from The Farmer's Wife; kale, swiss chard and zucchini from Mott Family Farm; hydroponic tomatoes from Pucker Brush Farm out of Shelocta, PA; quails' eggs from Blackberry Meadows; and spring onions, broccoli and peas from Blue Goose Farm.
Figure 1: Organic produce from Farmers@Firehouse on July 9, 2011.
I was so taken with the fresh eggs that I had to share a photo of them as well (Figure 2). There were jumbo eggs or unclassified for sale. I went for the unclassified and I'm glad I did. I was so happy when I opened the box and saw an array of differently colored eggs of varying sizes. Also, when I cracked a couple to make scrambled eggs, the yolks were a rich orange-yellow color and so delicious.
Figure 2: Fresh eggs from The Farmer's Wife. The inserted label states that these eggs are from hens that spend their days foraging on fresh grass :) I particularly love the pale blue eggs!
Finally, since I was already in the Strip for the farmers' market, I stopped off at Wholey's Fish Market to pick up some sustainable fish options. I found some fillets of wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon and whole dressed rainbow trout. I learned my lesson from past experience and had the fishmonger chop the heads off the trout for me this time. All in all, a successful trip and I can't wait to start cooking!

Thursday, June 30, 2011